Have you ever looked at a famous gaming franchise and thought that it’s time for that franchise to just go away? I’m actually talking about two kinds of gaming franchises.
- The overrated game franchises that are just too crass and mainstream for my tastes.
- The franchises that have been around for many years, but have aged poorly in their attempt to survive.
For this list, I’m only including franchises that have been around for a long while (at least ten years will do), and I’m only talking about franchises that I have an opinion on.
Also, I shouldn’t have to remind you that it’s my opinion. If you don’t agree with it, you’re more than welcome to comment. Just try and be civil about it, because I don’t take kindly to trolls.
With that out of the way, let’s get this show on the road.
#5 – Dynasty Warriors
For about seventeen years, Koei’s flagship action franchise has been a roaring success, especially in Japan, and that’s in spite of every new title being essentially the same game as the one before it. The only exception seems to be the original PS1 fighting game, which nobody seems to have played.
All the games are based on the same source material – Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms – and when you keep milking the same source material, it’s eventually going to lose all meaning, especially since all the characters are basically romanticized characters, at least when compared to their historical counterparts.
Personally, I do like the Dynasty Warriors franchise, but I seriously think that it’s gotten out of hand. As of Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends, there are now 81 playable characters, and only less than a quarter of them are good. Also, since 2011, many of the new characters being introduced are either pretty boys brought in to attract Japanese schoolgirls, or useless sex dolls meant to attract horny boys.
I find it amazing that Koei managed to make several games based on the same formula. They made Samurai Warriors, Warriors Orochi, and countless other crappy games with the same concept, and barely any of them are unique (though the original Samurai Warriors is worth playing).
Before move on to the next entry, I’d like to say that Dynasty Warriors has had its fun, but I think it’s time for the Dynasty Warriors to gracefully step aside.
#4 – Persona
The Persona franchise started out in 1996 as a spin-off of the larger Megami Tensei franchise (which I’ll admit is more like my brother’s territory). For about a decade, it was going to stay that way, until the release of Persona 3 in 2006. Somehow, Persona 3 became massively popular in Japan, to the point that over the past eight years, the entire franchise began to centre around it, even in spite of Persona 4’s release.
What I hate about the Persona franchise is that it’s completely undermined the Megami Tensei franchise as a whole. After Persona became popular, Atlus began riding the gravy train and started making exponentially more Persona games, while making less Shin Megami Tensei games, some of which would never see a UK release date.
Honestly, I think this is just a giant slap in the face to anyone wanting a real SMT game, especially if you’re still waiting for Shin Megami Tensei IV to come to Europe. Why should the Megami Tensei franchise suffer just because a bunch of Japanese schoolgirls just want the same thing over and over again?
Honestly, I think Persona has turned into the 1Direction of all JRPGs, in that it’s a massive cash cow that undermines everything else Atlus does.
#3 – Pac-Man
Okay, before you go overboard, Pac-Man was a great game, but it was one of those games that didn’t even need a franchise, and yet, in defiance of all things holy, they gave Pac-Man arms and legs. Not only that, but they’ve recently given him a new TV series: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, which somehow got it’s own game.
Pac-Man is the oldest franchise on this list, having been around for over thirty years. That said, Pac-Man hasn’t aged that badly, but I feel that Namco’s attempts to expand on the character of Pac-Man over the past twenty years went off royally half-cocked.
Twenty years ago, Namco set the stage for Pac-Man’s decline with Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures, which saw a wussified Pac-Man having to live with his wife’s incessant nagging. When you go from cock of the walk to being whipped onto the third generation, something is definitely wrong.
Also, I worry that that they’ve been making Pac-Man into more of a mascot aimed at kids because they assume that it’ll preserve the legacy of Pac-Man. If they want to preserve the legacy of Pac-Man, all they have to do is keep on re-releasing the original arcade game, which they’ve been doing anyway.
#2 – Call of Duty
Call of Duty represents everything I hate about the modern gaming industry. Like Dynasty Warriors, they’ve been doing pretty much the same thing over and over again, but this franchise somehow manages to get suspiciously rave reviews every year, and make millions from gullible costumers.
Apparently we now live in an age where the game companies can get away with bad game design as long as they can convince the game reviewers to give good reviews, which they can use to sell the game. The Call of Duty games are basically a sign of the times we live in. Our craving for increasingly realistic violence and online multiplayer is being exploited by Activision, and much of the tidal wave of mindless shooters on the Xbox 360 and PS3 stemmed from Call of Duty 4’s design and success.
Somehow, this has become the norm for the gaming industry. Why is Call of Duty so successful? Why is it so popular? It’s basically the same thing over and over again, and there’s plenty of people who genuinely hate the games, and yet the mainstream media appears to be ignoring them (or at least confining them to the forums) because it undermines their reviews, and might cause them to lose money in advertising.
Also, the Call of Duty games have become notorious for having among the most obnoxious fans in the history of the Internet. You know what I mean.
#1 – Final Fantasy
Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Final Fantasy, but my fandom lies mainly with the older Final Fantasy games, and the spin-offs that try to be like them. For me, however, Final Fantasy has had its time, and I say this mainly due to what it’s become.
Since Final Fantasy VII, Square Enix started taking the series in an uncomfortable new direction, but the transformation didn’t really kick off until Final Fantasy X. By 2001, the Final Fantasy series had completely abandoned everything that it great in the decade before. The designers had been getting incredibly perfectionist, in that they insist that their games look like they’re years ahead of the curb.
The characters also suffered in this direction. In Final Fantasy VII, we had Cloud, the whiny emo who won’t stop brooding. In Final Fantasy X, we had Tidus, the annoying git who looked like Meg Ryan after a sex change operation. In Final Fantasy XIII, we had numerous characters with emotional problems you could see from space, and the characters were all horrible.
Even more worrying is the direction they’re going with Final Fantasy XV.
While the main series has completely abandoned the old JRPG traditions, the spin-offs are trying in vain to keep the old Final Fantasy traditions alive. The problem is that the spin-offs seem to be missing the point, especially Bravely Default.
Here’s the thing. Bravely Default tries to be like Final Fantasy V (which I think is the greatest Final Fantasy game of all time), but offered less freedom than Final Fantasy V, and added more unnecessary gameplay elements that serve only to complicate the game further than necessary. Give me some time alone with Final Fantasy and I could plan a much better game than any Final Fantasy game made in the last 5 years.
The bottom line is that Final Fantasy has had 26 years in the sun, and the franchise is aging horrendously. Even though Final Fantasy was one of the titans of the JRPG genre, I feel that it’s no longer fit to defend the genre. The time has come for Square Enix to step aside and let the next generation take after it. There are loads of JRPGs in the market, both new and old, but they can’t get any attention because the monolithic Final Fantasy franchise hogs the limelight.